Los Angeles Philharmonic and Deaf West Theater collaboration: Beethoven’s “Fidelio” for hearing and deaf operagoers

Posted on: April 15, 2022

Los Angeles Philharmonic Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel (left) and cast members rehearse Beethoven’s Fidelio, a collaboration with Deaf West Theater. Photo: Michael Tyrone Delaney/New York Times

“DJ Kurs has been the artistic director of the Deaf West Theater, a theater company created here by deaf actors, for the past 10 years. But he had never seen the Los Angeles Philharmonic or been to the Walt Disney Concert Hall,” writes Adam Nagourney in Wednesday’s (4/13) New York Times. “He will be there this week, though, leading seven actors from Deaf West in an innovative production of [Beethoven’s] ‘Fidelio,’ … with a cast of singers and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The actors—along with a chorus from Venezuela whose members are deaf or hard of hearing and will also be signing—will be … expressively enacting the lone opera of a composer who had progressive hearing loss while writing masterpiece after masterpiece…. Singers and actors gathered last week for rehearsals … a mix of … voiced German, Spanish and English and signed American Sign Language and Venezuelan Sign Language.… Beethoven experienced hearing loss in the last decades of his life…. That history intrigued [LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo] Dudamel as he was arranging a 250th anniversary celebration of Beethoven’s birth … ‘It was how to make the opera be part of these two worlds—the two worlds of Beethoven,’ he said.”